As a business owner, your “to-do” list is probably overwhelming at times. But with all the responsibilities of running your day-to-day business, you may never get around to those tasks. Now that COVID-19 has forced us all to step back and reevaluate how we do things, it may be an excellent time to focus on the future.We know that business owners are resilient, so if your company has slowed or closed completely, you can use this time to ensure you bounce back strong and have a solid footing when the country opens reopens for business.

Here are some ideas:

1. Deep clean, organize and declutter.

Is it getting hard to find things in that storage room? Maybe you’ve wanted to have the floors deep cleaned or your display areas reorganized. Or if you’ve been keeping up with the major projects, maybe now is the time to clean out your desk and organizing and purging files. It’s an opportune time to tackle some of those projects, so you have a fresh start when business returns to a more normal routine.

2. Organize your finances.

Are your expenses all tracked? Have all your outstanding invoices been paid? Are you owed any revenue? Get your finances in order, and create a system (if you don't already have one) for keeping them organized. You could even start building a revised budget based on what you see your “new normal” looking like post COVID-19.

3. Evaluate your services.

What is working well? What isn’t? Is there something customers have frequently asked for that you haven’t had time to research? Consider eliminating products or services that aren’t really selling, and work on implementing new things that compliment your business and your target audience.

4. Evaluate alternate ways to do business.

Even once “safer at home” orders begin to lift, life as we knew it pre-COVID may take a while to return. Current and future trends are going to be challenging to predict, but this could work to your advantage. If you spend the time to understand the current landscape of your market and the world, you could potentially reposition your business. Maybe your business can provide its product or services more remotely than you thought. If you’re able to capitalize on this now, when quarantine lifts you may have an entirely new revenue stream or a whole new business model. Your business could transform from one that is focused exclusively on in-person services and sales to one that approaches those sales from two angles: in person and/or online.

5. Work on your marketing.

Is your collateral material like brochures, flyers and forms up to date? Once business resumes, you may find yourself busier than ever as consumers begin to patronize companies they’ve gone without for several months. Now is a great time to do an audit of your current printed material and update as needed. Your local print shop will appreciate the business now as well.

Next, consider reviewing your online presence. Is your Google Business listing accurate? How about your website and social media channels? Use this time to reorganize your website if needed, and make sure you are maintaining your social media. People are online now more than ever, and social media is a fantastic way to reach a local audience. Consider sharing light, uplifting posts to let the public know you are still there and look forward to serving them again. Or, you can work ahead and create a content calendar months in advance, so when you’re open for business again, you’ll have a list of posts ready to go and won’t have to spend time creating content daily.

6. Work on your networking skills

Check with your local Chamber or business associations for virtual networking opportunities. Several organizations are holding Zoom meetings that allow you to break up into groups to network with others and discuss topics pertinent to today’s business setting. Take a few minutes to research opportunities in your area, as more and more organizations are beginning to offer these types of events. It’s a great time to meet new people in a fun new way!

Also, now may be a good time to contact and check in with some of your key LinkedIn contacts. Don’t be afraid to ask for a contact’s point of view on issues and circumstances that you are experiencing. It’s also a great time to post your own thoughts and create more visibility for yourself.

7. Catch up on your reading/learning.

Learning is a lifelong process. No matter your education level, or how many years you’ve been in business, there is always more to learn. Do you have a folder full of ebooks and webinars you’ve purchased that you haven’t had time to get through? Now is the time to invest in yourself through books, blogs, webinars or podcasts. Here is a list of our business banker’s favorite business books and podcasts.

Written by Melissa Schamburek

Melissa is Marketing Specialist at Investors Community Bank. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications/public relations from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and is a member of the Chamber of Manitowoc County's marketing committee.

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